This year, the biennial Swiss Brain League Research Prize endowed with 20,000 CHF is awarded to the research group of Andreas Lüthi and Jan Gründemann from the FMI. The researchers have investigated how "internal states" such as anxiety, stress, hunger or thirst are coded in the brain of active mice. In the long term, their results may help to better treat diseases such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
Internal states determine our behavior. If we have not eaten for a while, we are in a bad mood; if we are afraid, we are more passive and withdraw. How such internal states correlate with our behaviors has been studied in detail. However, little is known about how the brain encodes and controls internal states.
The research group led by Andreas Lüthi (first author of the study Jan Gründemann, now a group leader at the Department of Biomedicine (DBM) of the University of Basel, used to be a SNF Ambizione Fellow in the Lüthi group) has investigated how these internal states are coded in the brain: Which groups of nerve cells in the amygdala - the brain’s "fear center" - are activated when anxious behaviors occur? And how does this activity change when behaviors changes’ For the first time, using a new miniaturized microscope imaging technique, the researchers were able to describe patterns in the amygdala of active mice that depict their anxiety states.
For their remarkable study, the researchers were awarded the Swiss Brain League Research Prize 2020 endowed with 20,000 CHF. Their findings make an important contribution to understanding the brain and hold great potential for therapeutic interventions.
Publication related to this award:
Jan Gründemann*, Yael Bitterman*, Tingjia Lu, Sabine Krabbe, Benjamin F. Grewe, Mark J. Schnitzer & Andreas Lüthi (2019) Amygdala Ensembles Encode Behavioral States. Vol. 364, Issue 6437, eaav8736
*these authors contributed equally.